The European Commission (EU) has formally opened an investigation into Microsoft’s practices
to assess if it broke European competition rules by bundling Teams into Microsoft 365 and Office 365.
With more and more companies adopting hybrid and remote working policies, as well as the growth of cloud computing, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft is restricting competition for communication and collaboration tools by bundling Teams with its dominant productivity software.
Moreover, the Commission will investigate if Microsoft limited interoperability with other available tools or refused to unbundle Teams from subscriptions to its productivity suites.
The Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, reasons that “remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe. We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive, and companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs.”
Microsoft is cooperating with the investigation
. A spokesperson for the tech giant recently said, “We respect the European Commission’s work on this case and take our own responsibilities very seriously. We will continue to cooperate with the Commission and remain committed to finding solutions that will address its concerns.”
The formal investigation opened on July 27, following a complaint raised by Slack Technologies Inc. on July 14, 2020. Slack alleged that Microsoft abused its dominant position by bundling Teams into its productivity suite, “blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” There is no defined or target end date of the investigation.
Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based communication and collaboration software offering chat, audio and video calling, and collaboration capabilities. Microsoft enhanced Teams earlier this year with GenAI capabilities to increase productivity and generate visual content
. Microsoft Teams has grown significantly with the increase in remote and hybrid work environments, going from 145 million to 270 million users in 2022.
The European Commission is composed of representatives from all European Union member states and has the mandate to implement and manage EU policies, laws, and funding programs. By opening a formal investigation with the European Commission, each member state is relieved of having to decide on how to apply the EU laws in their country and can rely on the European Commission for direction.